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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

Why should all Mobile ArcGIS apps work offline?

 
August 24th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

Wireless connectivity while outside, remains a challenge for mobile users. The discussion of offline ArcGIS, or the ability to use a GIS application without need for a wireless connection, is often focused on working in remote areas. But poor or slow loading ArcGIS apps are all too common in both remote and highly populated areas. Poor wireless signals can lead to almost unusable mobile apps.

Why should all Mobile ArcGIS apps work offline?

It is for that reason we believe that all mobile ArcGIS apps should be offline enabled. Case in point. Last week we were working with Collector for ArcGIS collecting data in downtown Salt Lake City. We were using the app in online mode (Collector is also offline enabled). Loading the app took over 3 minutes, every pan, zoom, update was painfully slow. A task which should have taken an hour, took considerably longer.

In our view all mobile ArcGIS apps should work offline. Collector for ArcGIS and our Universal Map Viewer are among the few ArcGIS apps which provide both full online and offline or disconnected capabilities.

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Please stop calling me the mapping guy

 
August 13th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

“You must love maps”

“Could you make me a map?”

“So your job is map making”

“Talk to those guys down the hall … the map guys”.

Grrrrrrrrrr!

Please stop calling me the mapping guy

Enough is enough. Seriously. I did not like it then. Today, I am even less tolerant. I am not a mapping guy. Period.

Don’t belittle me. Don’t label me. Understand me.

We can bring new insight to your organization. Can provide new ways to view and analyse your organizational data. We are an important (new) face in the changing world of technology. Give us a hug, tell us we are special, then allow us to dramatically change how you run your business

You can tell I have had enough. If you head up an organization and are not leveraging GIS across your organization. You aren’t properly doing your job. Seriously.

Now I have your attention

Let me tell you two stories.
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We need GIS apps which are super simple to use

 
August 12th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

We seem to hear so often now: “We need GIS apps which are super simple to use” . Why?

A history of GIS App Complexity

I’m afraid its true. We’ve been building GIS apps which are too complex. Too many GIS apps need users to be trained before use.

GIS has a history of complex and confusing apps

In 2005 Google Maps introduced us to simplicity. True, their target audience were consumers, not the enterprise, but still the simplicity was a thing of beauty. GIS has been pushing out applications filled with (too many) tools. Tools which are complex to use. Applications which are not intuitive. Applications which need training.

New Non-GIS Users

We are in the midst of geospatial revolution, driven by cloud and mobile technology. The geo world is being turned on its head. Traditional GIS users are being joined by a new far wider user base: non-GIS users. That’s not just consumers, but private organizations recognizing their business intelligence (BI) software is only giving them part of the story. By your staff who are looking to location based technology to improve how they work, and improve their organizational insight to make better decisions.

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Wondering what a successful ArcGIS Implementation looks like?

 
July 13th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

Innovative use of ArcGIS for Land Sales

Its always pleasurable to write about innovative uses of ArcGIS. Particularly when it comes to customers of WebMapSolutions. In this case, one of our commercial ArcGIS customers, focused on real estate. The implementation was truly an innovative use of ArcGIS for management of land sales.

Real Estate 101

Before we jump into the details, let’s step back for a moment. The real estate market is broadly split into residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural/rural segments. Residential real estate can include, houses, condominiums and townhomes. In contrast commercial real estate covers office buildings, multi-family housing, development land, and retail store buildings. Industrial real estate can include factories, mines and warehouses. Finally agricultural/rural includes rowcrop, pasture, livestock facilities, timberland, mini-farms, transitional land, and land supporting other crops such as fruit, berries and nuts.
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Do widgets provide the ultimate ArcGIS COTS solution?

 
July 1st, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

Its funny how we all have those ‘light bulb’ moments from time to time. I was in conversation, by email, with a GIS colleague last week. He wrote:

“I support Esri’s point on COTS, especially once you start deploying stuff cross-platform, our vertical has far too much custom development & legacy….”

In this post I thought it worth discussing in more depth my colleagues statement above. To consider commercial-off-the-shelf-software or COTS, in relation to Web based GIS applications which leverage widgets.

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With GIS today we are all to some degree groping in the dark

 
June 23rd, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

With GIS today we are all learning together. That is a statement not a question. And in making that statement, I want to make my suggestions on how we make this learning process easier.

With GIS today we are all to some degree groping in the dark

1. Lets all working harder at asking questions

Its time to step back and ask questions. Lots of questions. Too often we make presumptions. We believe what we read. Challenge your pre-conceived notions by asking questions. I’ll give you an example. I presumed, because ArcGIS Online had made it so much simpler to publish maps and apps, that many barriers to adoption had come down. So I went to some local cities and asked the question of their GIS folks. And what did I find: time, money, data, education and intransigence were still key barriers.

2. Really talk to users and clients ……. and listen

I hate to use a car dealers billboard to illustrate, but I believe the above rings true. We need to be better listeners. What are the problems and challenges? Too often we are trying put a square peg into a round hole. Thierry Gregorius GeoHipsters interview is well worth reading, in it he states:

“Much of my job involves talking to stakeholders across an organisation to find out what they’re really trying to achieve, what data they need to achieve it”

Or put differently, at the core of Thierry’s job is listening. How good are you at discovery through listening?

Listening to clients, managers, field staff: both to the organization and across the organization

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What we learned from a failed ArcGIS Implementation

 
June 18th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

We pride ourselves on honesty. To not just talk UP about our working world, but discuss the DOWN. Our (my) biggest lessons in life were learned from failure .. not success.

Its time to talk about a WebMapSolutions hiccup. And what we learned from a failed ArcGIS implementation.

We spent the first part of 2015 working with a private company who had no experience with GIS. They had a forward thinking senior staff member who quickly grasped the possibilities GIS might bring to their company. They enlisted WebMapSolutions to help evolve that vision.

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ArcGIS and Making Sense Out of Google’s Geospatial Evolution

 
June 11th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

I thought it worth following up on John-Isaac Clark’s article Making Sense Out of Google’s Geospatial Evolution. I’ve met John at past geo-conferences. He is Chief Innovation Officer at Thermopylae Sciences & Technology. Thermopylae have built their product suite on top of Google, so the recent changes announced by Google around their geospatial products could have a direct impact on Thermopylae’s business. In some ways Johns blog post was written to reassure his companies existing clients. Aside from this, there are some interesting points made worth discussing.

Google Impact on Geospatial

The launch of Google Maps in the mid 2000’s sent ripples (tidal waves?) across the geospatial industry. Suddenly interactive maps were easy to access and use. The Google Maps interface was beautifully simple. No head scratching was needed to use their maps. And with slippy tiles the user experience was extraordinary. For those of us developing mapping applications, simply finding good base map data was a huge undertaking. Google changed all of that. Rich base map data-sets suddenly became available. That was a huge change. I agree with John that the Google geospatial releases “enabled geo-literacy to be introduced to non-geographic information system professionals”.

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6 Key Challenges Slowing ArcGIS Online Adoption

 
June 8th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

From our work with customers, we are beginning to see the pace of adoption of ArcGIS Online and the ArcGIS Platform pick up. Ever more maps are being published in Online. But for apps, we remain in a world of early adopters.

What do we mean here?

We mean the pace of those deepening their engagement with ArcGIS Online beyond simply map publishing. Below we discuss 6 key challenges slowing ArcGIS Online adoption.

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5 things you need to know about Web mobile ArcGIS

 
June 2nd, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

ArcGIS Online is still relatively new. Many organizations have begun looking seriously at this cloud based GIS solution. Sure there are still worries about credits, cost concerns, confusion around named users. But wider scale adoption is on the horizon.

Web Mobile ArcGIS

As organizations dig deeper into ArcGIS, the question of mobile is often raised. In this post let’s discuss 5 things you need to know about Web mobile ArcGIS.

1. Ubiquitous – run on any device and platform

In today’s world we use many devices: PC’s, laptops, smartphones, tablets. These are all basically computers. Devices like smartphones, and tablets mean we are no longer limited to our office or home based computers. Now we can use applications anywhere and at anytime. GIS technology is particularly useful on mobile devices. Not only does it provide (easily understood) maps as output, but detailed, focused information based on location:

“Show me all the water valves which have not been inspected in Sandy City in the last 2 months”

“Alert me if I start digging with my excavator within 30 ft of an oil pipeline”

We all have a mix of different mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, Apple, Android, Windows, Blackberry. Ideally we want our mobile ArcGIS applications to run on any and all of our devices. Web ArcGIS is the perfect solution. Write once run everywhere is the true power of web ArcGIS technology. Pull up a browser on your device and you are good to go.

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